Schaefer's Antics: Maybe He Should Charge Admission

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Sunday, February 19, 2006

William Donald Schaefer -- bully or ham?

That was the question last week after the Maryland comptroller leered at a young state aide in front of a crowded room, asking her to "walk again" so he could gaze at her backside. It was typical of the former governor and Baltimore mayor's three-decade track record of egomaniacal spectacle -- dressing like Elvis at state banquets, throwing kicking-and-fist-pounding tantrums on the floor of City Hall, dropping trousers in front of lawmakers.

· July 1981: To make up for his failure to open the new Baltimore aquarium on time, the mayor jumps into the seal pool in an old-fashioned bathing suit, and splashes about with a "mermaid" model.

· January 1987: The newly elected governor marks his departure for Annapolis by stepping into a crate labeled "Baltimore's Gift to Maryland," which is lifted onto a ship. He then emerges, dressed in a white officer's uniform.

· November 1990: When a motorist flips him an unfriendly gesture, Schaefer traces her name and address through state records, writes her saying "your action only exceeds the ugliness of your face."

· February 1991: The governor asks Eastern Shore legislators, "How's that [out]house of an Eastern Shore?" Apologizes after 10 days of protest.

· March 1991: Angered by critical letters to the editor, Schaefer has state troopers drive him unannounced to the writer's home and harangues him for an hour.

· December 1991: The governor sends Christmas cards to two activist opponents with photos of them at a statehouse protest; the recipients call the mailings "intimidating."

· March 1993: At a news conference calling for a ban on some firearms, Schaefer points a 9mm pistol (unloaded, it turned out) at an AP reporter. "Some of you have never had it in your face. . . . I don't know what would happen to your pants, but I can imagine."

· August 2001: Midway through his first term as state comptroller, Schaefer calls his gubernatorial successor, Parris Glendening, a "chicken" at a public hearing, makes "cluck-cluck-cluck" noises, flaps his arms.

· May 2004: In another public-hearing rant, the comptroller gripes about a McDonald's cashier who had trouble speaking English. "I don't want to adjust to another language. . . . They ought to adjust to us." Despite an outcry, he never apologizes and instead prints bumper stickers: "Schaefer: He says what you think."

How about: "Schaefer: The Shtick's Getting Old."

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